Google to shift cloud compute tasks between datacentres based on green power availability

by Joseph K. Clark

Google’s company-wide decarbonize push continues apace, with the tech giant announcing a new capability to shift movable compute tasks to datacentres with a surplus of carbon-free energy available. The company said this capability means it can move jobs between different server farms based on regional, hourly fluctuations in the availability of carbon-free energy to ensure its workloads are running in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

“Our carbon-intelligent platform uses day-ahead predictions of how heavily a given grid will be relying on carbon-intensive energy to shift computing across the globe, favoring regions where there’s more carbon-free electricity,” the company said blog post. “The new platform does all this while still getting everything that needs to get done, done – meaning you can keep streaming YouTube videos, uploading photos, finding directions, or whatever else.”

The initiative is part of a broader push by the internet search giant to run its entire operations on decarbonized energy by 2030. The company confirmed the first workloads to benefit from this capability would be media processing-related. “Like many computing jobs at Google, these can technically run in many places (of course, limitations like privacy laws apply),” the blog post continued. “Now, Google’s global carbon-intelligent computing platform will increasingly reserve and use hourly compute capacity on the cleanest grids available worldwide for these jobs – meaning it moves as much energy consumption as possible to times and places where energy is cleaner, minimizing carbon-intensive energy consumption.”


The company described the move as “a logical progression” of its ongoing push to cut the carbon emissions generated by its operations, which have previously seen it draw on forecast data to ensure non-urgent compute workloads are processed in its datacentres during peak supply times for renewable energy. “By enabling our datacentres to shift flexible tasks to different times of day, we could use more electricity when carbon-free sources like solar and wind are plentiful,” the company blog post continued. “Now, with our newest update, we can shift more electricity use to where carbon-free energy is available.”

News of the initiative also coincides with a separate announcement by Google about the collaboration it has forged with clean-energy startup Fervo to co-develop a carbon-free power project centered on generating geothermal power. According to Google, the project is at an advanced stage. The firm claims the setup will supply carbon-free energy to the electricity grid that powers its data centers and cloud region in Las Vegas by 2022.

In a separate blog post announcing the partnership, the company said geothermal power would provide its data centers with a “firm and flexible” carbon-free energy source as it looks to wind down its reliance on fossil fuels. “Not only does this Fervo project bring our datacentres in Nevada closer to round-the-clock energy, but it also acts as a proof of concept to show how firm, clean energy sources – such as next-generation geothermal – could eventually help replace carbon-emitting power sources around the world,” the post added.

Related Posts